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Occupy protesters met with support in Harford

Waving both a tie-dye peace flag and a United States flag replete with corporate logos instead of stars, approximately 40 Occupy movement protesters made their way down Route 40 through Harford County late Friday morning.

The group, calling itself Occupy the Highway: The 99% March on Washington, spent Thursday night in Havre de Grace and planned to spend the bulk of Friday walking, with thee police escorts, the 15 to 17 miles along Route 40 from Havre de Grace to Joppatowne.

The march started in New York on Nov. 9 and is scheduled to be in Washington, D.C., by today (Wednesday), when Congress is expected to consider legislation that would extend tax cuts approved in the Bush administration.

For Paolo Marco, 24, one of the members of the group, the legislation is just one of the reasons the Occupy movement, and the two-week march, are important to him. Joining the Occupy movement, he said, is a chance for him to stand against the "wrong" politics of today, the "horrible" profiting from New York to Washington, D.C., and the "horrid" foreign policy.

As Marco pointed out, however, the Occupy movement is not about one agenda or one person, rather it's a group of individuals with different perspectives and beliefs. The walk to Washington, in addition to the timeliness of the Congressional legislation, is also about outreach.

"We're just trying to wake up people in this country," he said during a stop in Aberdeen.

The Occupy movement is not made up of "jobless hippies," Marco emphasized, adding that he is transferring from a New York university to a better arts college to continue his pursuit of an architectural degree.

From New York to Harford County, he added, the group has gotten a lot of support and their numbers have doubled from the start of the walk. They stayed in a Havre de Grace church Thursday night and, according to the NYCmarch2DC Twitter page, had already found lodging in Joppatowne for Friday night.

Along the way, including here, Marco said, they have received emails and phone calls from people trying to help.

Among the local supporters were Lisa McLaughlin, of Bel Air, and her son, David McLaughlin. Together the pair handed out hot chocolate from the trunk of their car to the marchers, who stopped in the parking lot of the Budget Inn in Aberdeen Friday morning to rest and wait for others to catch up.

"I also am concerned about the large disparity between the upper income and the rest of the population," Lisa McLaughlin said. "I've seen a lot of people be hurt in many ways because of it."

The group planned to spend the night in Joppatowne Friday before continuing their march to meet members of the Occupy Baltimore movement, which has been camping in a park near the Inner Harbor.

As they walked south toward Washington, the men and women in the Occupy march were met with several honks and cheers of encouragement from commuters on Route 40.

For McLaughlin, who was working to find lodging for the group in Joppatowne, the Occupy movement marchers are people to be admired.

"I appreciate and am inspired by these people that decided to take this long walk in order to get the word to more people that it's something we should be concerned about," she said, "and to make some changes."

Occupy protesters made their way to the Occupy Baltimore group on Saturday after spending the night in Joppatowne Friday, according to their Twitter page.

After resting on Sunday, the group planned on marching to Laurel Monday, where they were to stay the night before the last leg of their journey to Washington Tuesday morning.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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